Economic impact of overweight and obesity to surpass $4 trillion by 2035: World Obesity Federation

Today, March 4, 2023 is World Obesity Day. The theme for this year’s World Obesity Day is ‘Changing Perspectives: Let’s Talk About Obesity.’ The World Obesity Atlas 2023, published by World Obesity Federation, predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obesity will reach $4.32 trillion annually by 2035 if prevention and treatment measures do not improve. At almost 3% of global GDP, this is comparable with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.”

It is predicted that more than half the global population will be living with overweight and obesity within 12 years if prevention, treatment, and support do not improve.

“The report emphasizes the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and support people affected by the disease. It also acknowledges the impact of climate change, COVID-19 restrictions, new pandemics, and chemical pollutants on overweight and obesity and warns that without ambitious and coordinated action to address systemic issues, obesity rates could rise still further.”

The majority of the global population (51%, or over 4 billion people) will be living with either overweight or obesity by 2035 if current trends prevail. 1 in 4 people (nearly 2 billion) will have obesity.

Childhood obesity could more than double by 2035 (from 2020 levels). Rates are predicted to double among boys to 208 million (100% increase) and more than double among girls to 175 million (125% increase) and are rising more rapidly among children than adults.

Lower income countries are facing rapid increases in obesity prevalence. Of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally (for both adults and children), 9 of those are from low or lower-middle income countries. All are from either Asia or Africa.

World Obesity Federation calls for comprehensive national action plans to help countries act on new World Health Organization (WHO) Recommendations for the Prevention and Management of Obesity. The Atlas report will be presented at a high-level policy event on March 6, 2022 to UN policymakers, member states and civil society.

Acknowledgement of the economic impact is in no way a reflection of blame on people living with obesity, which is a chronic, relapsing disease.”

Professor Louise Baur said the trend was “particularly worrying”, adding that “governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation” by assessing “the systems and root factors” that contribute to obesity.

The effects of obesity’s prevalence on lower-income countries are also highlighted in the report. Nine of the 10 countries with the greatest expected increases in obesity globally are low or lower-middle income states in Africa and Asia. Reasons include trends in dietary preferences towards more highly processed foods (e.g., ultra-processed foods), greater levels of sedentary behavior, weaker policies to control food supply and marketing, and less well-resourced healthcare services to assist in weight management and health education.

The authors of the report also note that lower-income countries are “often the least able to respond to obesity and its consequences.”

The findings estimate that rises in obesity rates around the world will have a significant impact on the global economy, equating to 3% of global Gross Domestic Product.

The report emphasizes that its acknowledgement of the economic impact of obesity “is in no way a reflection of blame on people living with obesity.”

Obese is a medical term used to describe a person with a high excess of body fat.

The report uses body mass index (BMI) to make its assessments. BMI is calculated by dividing an adult’s weight by the square of their height.


World Obesity Atlas 2023 Report. March 3, 2023. World Obesity Federation. Available at:

Economic impact of overweight and obesity to surpass $4 trillion by 2035.
Press Release. March 3, 2023. World Obesity Federation. Available at:

Davies A. Half of world on track to be overweight by 2035. BBC News. March 3, 2023. Available at:

Published by greengrass50

My name is Christine McCullum-Gomez, PhD, RDN. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist with expertise in environmental nutrition, food and nutrition policy, food and nutrition security, food justice, chronic disease prevention, regenerative & organic agriculture, and sustainable healthy dietary patterns. Currently, I serve on the Editorial Review Board and as a Column Editor for the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. I live in Bogota, Colombia with my husband, two teenagers (boy-girl twins), and our dog Honey. My website is: You can follow me on Instagram at:

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